Saturday, 5 May 2018

Ruth Recovery, Refreshment and even a Ruth Rescue

Day Forty Five - Lyme Regis to West Bexington 24.8 km (15.4 miles).
Time on route 7:00hrs, walking time 6:30hrs.

Friday 04 May 2018
Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 21.04.42
Wow, long time no see Coast Path!  It's been a messy winter/spring with various life challenges, most of which aren't relevant to my walk except the one about having an accident in December and subsequent shoulder operation (end of February) which entailed me having my arm in a sling for 6 weeks.  That certainly cramped my walking style and today was the first time I felt confident being out on an uneven surface with a rucksac.  Golly, I sooooooo needed the sea, sun, coast path and to be back on the trail again.

I parked at Swyre (loved the sign post) and caught the bus to Lyme Regis.
20180504_1 Swrye bus
Despite most of the southwest being bathed in sunshine and clear skies, south Dorset had a mist clinging to its coast and Lyme Regis was a little murky as I looked back at it.
20180504_2 Lyme Regis 09.19.42
And I was walking towards more misty cliffs.
20180504_2 Lyme Regis 09.20.14
The sea was calm - absolutely beautiful.  I skirted around the museum/theatre then walked up the steps to the carpark.  Annoyingly I only counted 113 but was hardly going to go back to check.
20180504_2 Lyme Regis steps
The stretch of path 5 km or so east of Lyme Regis has been very affected by cliff instability/erosion and many detours are in place.  These are sometimes sign-posted clearly, but occasionally I was to be found trying to reconcile the guide book map, its text and reality on the ground: 3 versions of the truth.  I lost time ambling to and fro and had to double back a couple of times.  My first confusion was just after the 114 steps - how could I get lost in the first 15 minutes of the walk?!  Anyway, I found my route and skipped off through the bluebells of Timber Hill.
20180504_3 Bluebells on Timber Hill
The detour then takes you directly across the Lyme Regis golf course.  Bearing in mind this was a sunny Friday I did feel I was taking my chances as it was pretty busy.  Sadly I was too well behaved not to try and bag the golf course trig TP4590 (too far off the route and too many witnesses) but I know where it is now...

I descended into Charmouth and once again lost my route. I crossed the River Way only to discover that the path ahead was closed so I double-backed and walked the road route.  My final glimpse back at Lyme Regis before it disappeared from view.
20180504_5 Looking back on Charmouth and Lyme Regis
Golden Cap was ahead of me now.  I'd visited it years ago and remember it not only for its wonderful views but for my walk off the headland through a field of cows.  I am still not a major fan of them but a few years ago I was petrified - so much so that I recall hopping over a fence into a patch of stinging nettles just to avoid their scary glares.  I was steeling myself for cow-gate when I caught up with a couple ahead of me who simply just strolled through the field of cows and calves.  I quickened my pace to keep up with them and, phew, once again I survived a bovine field.  I thanked them for being my rescuers.  One day I'll grow up and manage cows like a big brave person.  Until then...
20180504_6 Towards Golden Cap
Golden Cap trig was just as expected - trig like in all its utter beauty - TP3399.  Little view to speak of but I did manage a self-timer shot.
20180504_7 Golden Cap Trig Pillar 12.10.47
20180504_7 Golden Cap Trig cropped
One of the amazing things about the coast path is the views. One minute you're slogging up a hill focused on the next metre of climb and the next, ta da!, the coast throws open a beautiful breath-taking vista that stops you in your tracks.  It's worth the slog up for the 'wow' factor on the descent.
20180504_9 Towards Eype and Chesil
I descended into Seatown and realised, to my horror, that I was very behind schedule. I had apparently only walked 10 km in 3 hours which was ludicrous.  I think the detours had increased my distance and decreased my time.  Anyway, I had a much needed stop and mental re-group.  A glass of wine and 4 glasses of water later I was raring to go.  And so I did.
20180504_11 Eype Beach
I pretty much shot along the next few km.  West Bay was apparently 1 hour 15 mins from Seatown.  I did it in 45 mins.  It's not the most attractive town in Dorset.
20180504_11 West Bay 13.54.47
But initial appearances are deceptive and, once clear of the holiday park and practical but dull breakwaters, the harbour itself is quite pretty.
20180504_11 West Bay 14.12.32
Burton Bradstock is another Dorset village unblessed with a holiday camp.
20180504_12 Burton Bradstock
I cleared the last cliff and descended onto the beginning of Chesil Beach.
20180504_13 Chesil Beach begins 15.25.33
I don't recall seeing brassica on a beach before - sea kale (Crambe maritima).
20180504_13 Chesil Beach begins 15.28.25
The excitement of a flat route was soon superseded by the annoyance of walking on shingle. I was 22 km into my walk and a pebble beach work out wasn't on my agenda. Fortunately the path detours behind Bruton Mere reed beds into a bog.  I have to admit that bog hopping is preferable to shingle schlepping.

Once back on the beach I stopped to watch the pedestrians pass.  I've never had ducks on my route before.  The duck hen was being very closed watched by her two suitors.
20180504_13 Chesil Beach begins 16.02.35
As my car was at Swayle I could see a few short cuts on my map up to it.  Strangely, once seeing the footpaths in reality, I gave them a wide berth.  There is bog and there is bog.
20180504_13 Chesil Beach begins 16.15.09
On reflection, a marvellous day on the path heightened by such a long absence since my last walk.  Plenty of time to relax, reflect and refresh myself.

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